When Books Grow Up

For those of you who have been following my blog, you know that I have been working on rewriting the books I wrote when I was a teenager. It is interesting to see the difference between the originals and the new text, and I am happy to say that I am now nearly finished with the first book in my trilogy, The Four Stars.

When I began writing The Four Stars, I was a sophomore in high school. The story was based off of me and my three best friends, and was meant more for our own entertainment than anything else. Frankly, at the time that I began writing it, I had no idea what I was doing with the story. There was no clear plot or world rules for me to go by, so as the story developed, rules changed, facts changed, and plots began to form. The only problem was that pieces of old ideas were still stuck in the story when I published it and, looking back on it, I realized that the whole story needed to be cleaned up. Thus the rewrite.

The original edition of The Four Stars was a 12-chapter, 155-page book that really couldn’t even be considered a novel. It probably had, at most, 48,000 words total. Considering how small it was, when I first took up the project, I thought the rewrite would be relatively simple. The problem with that? Well, there’s a big difference between a 16-year-old girl and a 23-year-old woman. And when I grew up, so, apparently, did my books. I am currently sitting at 88,000+ words, the longest book I have written so far, and I still have probably about 8 chapters to go.

One of the biggest changes that I have made in this rewrite actually has to do with point of view. Several years ago, my mentor, Dr. Robinson, was kind enough to take a look at my trilogy. When he came back with it, he also came back with a 2-page list of pros and cons. The pros totaled a whopping 5 sentences. It was hard for me to accept at first, and for a while I didn’t do anything with it, but when I began gearing up to rewrite the trilogy, the first thing I pulled out was those two pages. (And yes, I still have them). One of the biggest things Dr. Robinson noted was my lack of a distinct point of view in the original stories. And it was true. I have always imagined my stories as movies in my head. Thus, my description itself can be pretty good, but overall story quality? Well, constantly-changing camera angles don’t work so well in books.

The rewrite of The Four Stars has a slightly different feel to it. I have broken the story up into various viewpoints, focusing on the world from the eyes of the given character instead of an overall view. And actually, I’m quite enjoying the change, because it’s allowing me to get closer to my characters and reveal their inward struggles versus their outward behavior. It was one of the things I loved most about writing Prism World, and that style has been carried over, to some extent, in the Star Trilogy.

This change in point of view has also had an effect on the minor characters as well. Though Razi, Rayne, Eryn, and Gavin are the major players in The Four Stars, I have also written scenes for events that are merely mentioned in the original book. Thus, there are scenes told from the viewpoints of King Dorrian (king of Ardenia and overlord of the allied kingdom of Livania), Lord Rolf (lord of Alfedan, the country of the forest elves), and even Cloony (a servant of Ceallach, the Gaul king; saying any more would mean spoilers 😉 ). Doing this has allowed me to develop characters that were relatively unimportant in the original Four Stars, but who became more important as I got further into the series.

Of all the additional scenes and chapters I’ve added to the book, though, I’d say that the chapters told from the perspective of Cloony have been the most fun. Cloony, to be honest, was an afterthought in the original story, as were King Ceallach and the Gaulian royal heir, Fogarta. As such, none of these characters got much showtime in The Four Stars. In fact, the whole conflict between Livania and the Gauls was more like a side story instead of a driving force. Writing from the perspective of Cloony, however, I have the chance to bring the conflict to the forefront. I also have the opportunity to develop the characters of Ceallach, Fogarta, and Cloony.

I love all of my characters in this story. I really do. But I’d say that of all the characters I’ve created, Cloony is proving to be the most interesting. All the characters have flaws of some sort: Razi struggles with self-doubt, Rayne translates her fears into eccentric and brash tendencies, Eryn has way too big of an ego, Gavin is something of a pessimist, Shea is too proud to admit when he needs help and frequently allows his insecurities to translate as anger toward other people. But of all my characters, Cloony is the character that has the most depth. There are two sides to Cloony. He is most definitely a coward, and even though he dislikes Ceallach and Fogarta and inwardly protests their behavior, he still caves with each command he is given. And yet when it comes to the lives of innocent people, Cloony displays remarkably brave behavior, even putting himself between a wounded enemy knight and an angry Fogarta. But even then, Cloony still insists that he is worthless, that he can never escape the Gauls, and that he was doomed to destruction the moment he submitted to Ceallach. His story is a struggle between fear and guilt and the kind heart that is hidden inside of him. I think that is what makes him so interesting.

Overall, I expect that I’ll be finished with The Four Stars by the end of February. My goal is to publish some time in March, but stay tuned for further updates on that. And also keep an eye out for new excerpts, which I will be posting here soon as I finish up the book. Thanks for reading!

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One thought on “When Books Grow Up

  1. You’ve learned a lot in college, especially the concept that success in writing comes from never, never giving up. Congrats in taking your story and making it into a real novel. I look forward to reading you revised version.

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